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The Handbook of Lifespan Communication


Edited By Jon F. Nussbaum

The Handbook of Lifespan Communication is the foundational scholarly text that offers readers a state of the art view of the varied and rich areas of lifespan communication research. The fundamental assumptions of lifespan communication are that the very nature of human communication is developmental, and, to truly understand communication, change across time must be incorporated into existing theory and research. Beginning with chapters on lifespan communication theory and methodologies, chapters are then organized into the various phases of life: early childhood, adolescence, emerging adulthood, middle adulthood, and older adulthood. Top scholars across several disciplines have contributed to chapters within their domains of expertise, highlighting significant horizons that will guide researchers for years to come.
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Chapter Seventeen: Spouse and Parent: Television Images of Major Roles of Adulthood



Television Images of Major Roles of Adulthood


“Regardless of whether they are fictional or real, television families are sites of cultural anxieties, where the work of social cohesion is ritually enacted.”

—KOMPARE (2009, P. 102)

While recent data indicate that the age of first marriage is increasing and the number of people marrying is declining, it is still the case that the majority of adult Americans marry at least once (Wilcox & Marquardt, 2010), and we still see marriage as “an event of adulthood” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010). Additionally, although parenthood is an activity that is rapidly uncoupling from marriage (Wilcox & Marquardt, 2010), it is still another signifier of adulthood. Ultimately, these two roles, spouse and parent, consume both the physical and mental lives of the majority of U.S. adults.

There is a good deal of research that analyzes media products that portend to give advice about relationships—both romantic and parental. For example, a substantial body of research exists that analyzes popular magazines targeted to women and teen girls. Researchers have long criticized these magazines for their emphasis on heteronormative romance and the centrality of males to the lives of females. The sheer plethora of advice on how to capture the eye or the heart of a male in magazines targeted to females attests to the obsession with making sure women know they need a male partner to be complete. Magazines targeted...

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